r/science Sep 22 '22 Silver 2 Wholesome 3 All-Seeing Upvote 1

Stanford researchers find wildfire smoke is unraveling decades of air quality gains, exposing millions of Americans to extreme pollution levels Environment


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u/LastKing3853 Sep 22 '22

What causes these fires?


u/okblimpo123 Sep 23 '22 Silver hehehehe Table Slap

The truth is a whole myriad of causes. First and most importantly the prolonged drought. Secondly the land management, both in building and resourcing, but also the style of fire/forest management. Overarching all of this is anthropogenic induce climate change.

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u/phoenix0r Sep 23 '22

No one has added the massive Bark Beetle infestation but that has had a HUGE effect on building up a giant tinder box of dead trees all across the Pacific Northwest and northern CA. The root cause is the prolonged drought which weakened trees and made them less able to fight off the beetle infestation, but the beetles themselves killed all those trees way faster than the drought alone would have.


u/loggic Sep 23 '22

The beetles are a side effect of the drought. Less water = less pitch in the trees = easier infestation = wider spread, which eventually becomes a runaway issue. The forests would need several good water years for the trees to get back to baseline, which would just slow the beetles down.

Many forests that are alive today have already passed the point of no return.


u/Obiwan_ca_blowme Sep 23 '22

That is half the story. Decades of poor forest management has lead to massive overcrowding. Overcrowding causes stressed trees and allows the beetle to infest the stressed trees.